Interview with Ryan Mackie of South African Hotels
We recently interviewed Ryan Mackie, the owner of South-African-Hotels, a tour operator that handles hotel accommodation, transport bookings, activity and tour bookings for visitors to Southern Africa.
Born in Rhodesia, Ryan and his family left when he was a small child. He went to school in Nelspruit in Mpumalanga, and worked in various lodges and guest houses in South Africa during his high school years, which introduced him to the hospitality industry. His father was a chef and he spent some time working in the catering business, which eventually guided his way into the tourism industry.
Q: Where did you study?
My parents had heard about C?sar Ritz here in South Africa and they were of the opinion that if one wishes to have a successful career in the hospitality field, an education which includes both theoretical and practical parts could be beneficial.
After I received my higher diploma, I moved on to graduate with the BA in Hospitality from Washington State University, which has a campus in Brig, Switzerland, not far away from the C?sar Ritz College.
The internship programs which followed each term of the schooling were very interesting and I learned a lot. Theory is one thing, but the application thereof on the job is another story?
Q: What did you do at the end of your studies?
I wanted to achieve a leading position at a well-established hotel or become self-employed within the tourism field. I had set up an interview directly with Austria Haus, who I went on to work for. We communicated by telephone, fax and e-mail, and they have a sister hotel in Germany which I had visited as well. I worked first in the Reservations department which handled the bookings of the three hotels, and then I got promoted to be the Assistant General Manager of the luxurious Austria Haus in Vail, Colorado (USA), which consisted of timeshare units and hotel rooms.
Q: What did you enjoy most about this job?
Being surrounded by so many wonderful staff members and guests, it?s a very social job to work at the Front Desk of a hotel. As most of the guests were regular visitors, I got to know them quite well.
It was definitely a worthwhile experience, not only in the way of getting to know the operational side of a hotel, but also to get to know different cultures and traditions from guests who traveled here from all parts of the globe.
Q: What were some of the negatives?
The working hours as you have to work into the nights and of course on all weekends and public holidays. That is the downside of the tourism industry.
Q: What made you come home to South Africa?
I always wanted to come back to South Africa. Our country is so beautiful and has such potential. The visa expired and I was excited to return back home.
Q: What did you end up doing?
At present, I live in Cape Town, which is considered the ‘hub’ of the tourism industry of South Africa. I started with the golf niche market to get into the tourism industry here, but now we book pretty much all the requirements of tourists.
South-African-Hotels.com provides travellers with an easy, quick, and reliable online travel guide to assist with the planning of travel arrangements to South Africa and Southern Africa. The comprehensive listings of hotel and game lodge accommodation throughout Southern Africa includes countries such as South Africa, Namibia, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Mozambique, and Madagascar.
Q: Is working in hospitality really so hard?
It is what you make of it. Most departments of an actual hotel operation work on shifts whereby you work early in the morning, for example, and then enjoy the late afternoon and evening off, which can be great… But then during peak season, you?re expected to work overtime and show great performances.
I love what I do though. If I was to choose a profession again, I would still choose the tourism sector.
Q: What are your top 3 tips for those who are interested in working in the hospitality industry?
- Don?t be picky, take whatever is available. You never know which doors might be opened by taking any position.
- Do more than is expected and rather ‘over’-deliver.
- Enjoy what you do and you will have fun doing it.
If you are dedicated and a hard worker who enjoys a social environment, then I would recommend the hospitality industry to you. My motto: never give up…life always presents new surprises.
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